Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pulling for Supermom

So here's the plan. Yesterday I had a super duper High Definition MRI of my brain.

We were referred outside of Tripler for the scan- which in all honesty was fine with me. It's nice to see how the other half lives from time to time.

We walk in- Koa wood decor- friendly receptionist- chilled water available for consumption. The familiar hum and rattle of the MRI machines next door permeate the check in process. The seats have cushions. There are not 1 but 2 TV's so everyone waiting has a view.  I get called back to my secondary waiting room- which is slightly smaller than my living room and I get handed a remote control to watch TV.  The plants and surroundings are neither sterile nor terrifying. Before I can even find something to watch the technicians are ready for me and lead me to the machine with headphone so I can have music to listen to since they noticed I marked that I am claustrophobic. Isn't that my luck - little waiting in the room that I wouldn't mind waiting in.

Some of the problem is that I was to have a PET scan last week. Well due to scheduling gymnastics associated with having brain tumors- it was cancelled and not rescheduled and there was a mix up. As it turns out- I came down with a nasty cold that afternoon and it is just as well that I didn't have to chase down guesses or repeat scans to determine if spots were cold or cancer.  I've had colds for scans before and nothing quite adds to the claustrophobic effect like thick mucus dangling down your throat and an MRI tech yelling at you to hold still. Yet the these techs handed me a special cough drop from Chinatown and I'll be darned if that thing didn't work. An hour later I was done- neither suffocated or coughing.

As we left the MRI suite, we noshed on a rather delightful salad from the coffee shop in the foyer of the building.

The MRI is important because is it going to help the surgeon and the radiation oncologist pinpoint the exact coordinates of my misbehaving tumors.  MRI gives the best resolution of swelling vs tumor and all the various structures in the brain.
Jen's toomah

Tomorrow, I go for gamma knife. There are no actual knives involved- it is not surgery. It is pinpointed radiation.  Around noon- the neurosurgeon will screw(yes- screw- and it is as terrifying as it sounds) a frame to my head. As terrifying as that is- the reason is to help zero in on the tumors and to prevent movement.  Then I will have a CT scan. 

After the CT scan- I will get to wait with Phil and my new frakensteinian head piece- while the doctors plot and plan the coordinates for treatment. They look at the MRI and CT and tell the computer exactly where my tumors are.  From there it is pretty much a software driven deal. When they are ready for me- they put me in the colander (which I think they technically call Collimeter) but potato/potato- see the round thing with holes in the picture below? That thing. And this is where the anti anxiety meds are worth their weight in gold. 

I then get pushed into the massive radiation machine which shoots tons of radioactive beams that individually aren't too scary yet when they converge in the right spot- ZAP! Then we hope hope hope that :
this works.
there are few side effects. 
I don't freak out. 

Afterwards they put corks in the screw holes and I am bummed it's not october cuz I am the bride o Frankenstein.  Kidding. Apparently they put bandaids on the holes- which are just flesh wounds- but we all know how much the scalp likes to bleed. And we go home and hope for no complications. 

And hope the tumor dies. 
and hope my brain does not swell. 
and hope for minimal side effects. 

When I was 17 my dad had a brain tumor. 3 years before my brother did. Brain tumors- I am familiar with them and they scare the shit out of me. They can take away who you are, what you can do and your future. They are angry little bastards. Mine just happen to originate from my breast, we think- so here's to hoping they are boobs. The only way to know for sure would be to biopsy- and biopsying brains is pretty tricky and if you are going to biopsy you might as well do surgery. Gamma knife radiation is "less invasive". It is the best option for the situation. It would be the best option no matter the tumor type. 

I remember vividly sitting in a cold room, very much like the MRI waiting room at Tripler- listening to the humming and bustling of nuclear medicine- trying to read Anna Karenina for IB English and failing miserably.   To say that this process brings back a lot of hard memories is an understatement. 

Yet I remember how far we've come since then. How far I've come since then and I know- what will be, will be. I have more to do and am confident this is yet another step on the path I am supposed to be on. For years I had been terrified of chemo because it almost killed my brother. Yet it worked for me. For years I have hated radiation for making my dad's tumor angry. Yet here I am facing down yet another fear. 

It's tough because with exception of a nasty week of vertigo- I feel pretty OK. I keep being told this procedure is tolerated very well and I've read reports that it has been successful in LFS patients. Of course I tolerate a lot of things that I feel are bullshit- so this might be more of the same. Worst case scenario- it doesn't work, I have side effects, swelling and end up having to have surgery to control swelling. Best case scenario- the tumor dies and I can control things with my mind. 

Tolerates well= go home and have a headache and maybe some nausea. 
not too bad a deal if it works. I could have residual damage- hearing loss, vision loss, and others tumors could pop up. But we are going to hope for the best and pull for Supermom!

SO pull out your Team Mallory Shirts or your MUTANT tees if you got em- we need some extra good juju tomorrow.  Do something tomorrow you've been wanting to do for awhile but haven't or just do something fun- in your shirt and send me a pic! Many hugs from Paradise. 


  1. Will do! Will get the ju-ju on for you! Sally

  2. You are my hero woman! I'm thinking and praying for you! Love and strength to you, Susan.

  3. Just read this entry...never too late for a prayer...or some good juju from the midwest!


Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)